End of road for Leicester
LEICESTER, England (AP):
Atletico Madrid reached the Champions League semi-finals for the third time in four seasons by ending Leicester's fairytale European journey yesterday, drawing 1-1 at the King Power Stadium to advance 2-1 on aggregate.
Once Atletico grabbed an away goal through Saul Niguez's first-half header, any hopes of the English champions extending their debut in Europe's elite competition seemed to be completely extinguished.
Especially since Atletico was looking technically superior, attacking with greater skill and potency and outplaying the European novices.
And yet the spirit that powered Leicester to a remarkable Premier League title triumph returned in the second half as a tactical switch to by caretaker manager Craig Shakespeare from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2 put Leicester firmly back in the game. The subdued atmosphere was lifted by Jamie Vardy's 61st-minute strike, but leveling the score on a chilly central England night wasn't sufficient.
A defense as sturdy as Atletico's wasn't going to allow Leicester to score the two goals it still required to go through as a succession of shots were intercepted.
"We were definitely in the ascendancy," Vardy said. "We brought Leo (Leonardo Ulloa at halftime) on to cause an aerial threat and it started paying dividends for us. They are probably used to playing teams who keep possession more, so we were going direct."